Slice of Life: School Sports Day Report

Last Saturday was my kindergarten sports festival. It’s a big thing here in Japan. The kids have been preparing for several weeks, even months for this, learning Judo, some band instruments, and gymnastics displays along with some relay races, etc. but the most entertaining part of the day, for us, were the parent activities! There were 3 adult-only games and a couple parents & kids activities. I can’t decide which one is the best so I’ll quickly explain all 3 adult games.

One game was with all parents together. Just imagine: 2 groups of about 35 adults, each lined up along opposite sides of the field/track. In the center was 2 of each: an old futon mattress, a giant ball covered in packing tape, an old blanket, and piece of a big plastic tube. A fake gun shot rang out, and all the adults ran to the center as fast as possible to try & grab the objects & get them across their end of the field. It was ridiculous to watch the groups running toward each other as fast as they could, like they were going to fight. In the end, only one of the giant balls suffered an injury and was flattened on 2 sides. It never made it away from the center of the field before the game ended.

The next adult game was for the grandparents. A basket was placed up on a tall pole about 12 feet in the air, and bean bags or small soft balls (a little bigger than baseball size) were scattered all around the baskets. When the gun shot rang out this time, the 2 groups went around picking up the balls and tossing them toward the baskets, over & over to fill it as much as possible. There had to be about 50+ grandparents participating in it! It was nice that they had a game for the grandparents and they seemed to enjoy it as well. They played this twice in a row and in the end, each team won a round.

Last was the adult relay race at the very end of the day. It was separated between men & women, and each group was split into 4 teams, each a different color. Then we were given matching colored fabric pieces to tie around our head like a sweat band for the event. I was in the very first group to run (Blue team!) and came in last because I was worried I would fall on the chalky/gravel/sand! It was quite slippery and I had a good right to be worried since about 3 women fell and in the mens run, about 10 of them fell! There had to be about 50+ men running the race, and only about 40 women. Joe was on the pink team and made it around the track pretty fast, without falling!

The kids did a few different relay races, and a musical band performance, as well as a few dances and karate-looking event, and all the ages did some different events. Keep in mind all these kids were under the age of 6 – the kindy is split into 3 years – nensho: around 3 years old, nenchu, 4-5 years old, and nencho: 5-6 years old. I don’t remember doing things that required so much coordination when I was that age!
At the end of the day, all the kids got a medal (and 2 classes got trophies) and at the end of the events, all the kids lined up and the head of the school said a few things to the kids (I’m not sure what exactly), and then they played a Japanese national song and everyone stood for it.

During the day, we ate lunch in the office with the head of the school- fancy bento boxes (oishii desu!) and were offered ‘natsume’ or in English: jujube fruits!! I have never seen one before, and maybe I’ve only heard of jujube candies or something like that… but I tried it and I thought it was gross but Joe asked for more!! 🙂

This coming weekend is the sports festival at Joe’s kindy and it will be a lot of fun as well!

After this weekend, we will be in October and in a few weeks, we will have been in Japan for 6 months!!! It doesn’t feel like 6 months to us at all. Time here is flying by and in the next month we must decide/work out if we will stay in Takayama for a 2nd year or not… We’ll keep you updated when we know what’s going to happen!